What Makes Culture Change Possible?

Leaders have a wide range of tools at their disposal to align employee behavior with strategy and close the gap between their current and target culture.

To close this gap, leading organizations make the most of seven critical levers that influence behavior and shape organizational culture. These levers represent a mix of hard and soft approaches that separately and in combination shape behavior. They enable organizations not only to understand the forces shaping their current culture but also to specify what needs to be changed in order to achieve and sustain the desired culture.

  1. Leadership. Leaders’ role-modeling behaviors; their manner of communication, especially in reinforcing desired behaviors; how they spend their time, manage their priorities, and interact with direct reports (do they micromanage or manage by principle?); the heroes and legendary leaders they revere
  2. People and Development. The kind of employees who are recruited and hired; opportunities for meaningful work and the kind of career paths and personal growth the organization enables; how talent is promoted and retained; the coaching that supervisors provide; the organization’s learning and development programs
  3. Performance Management. The key performance indicators that the organization uses to define and track performance drivers, and its policies and practices regarding compensation, benefits, reviews, promotions, rewards, and penalties, including the consequences of undesirable behavior
  4. Informal Interactions. Networks, the nature of peer-to-peer interactions, gatherings, and events, whether active communities of interest exist, whether people know whom to contact to access organizational knowledge
  5. Organization Design. Organizational structure, processes, and roles, decision rights, collaboration processes, units’ relationship to headquarters, office layout and design
  6. Resources and Tools. The projects that are funded, access to human resources, management systems, analytical tools
  7. Values. The collective beliefs, ideals, and norms that guide peoples’ conduct and help them adhere to priorities, especially when facing a difficult business problem

Culture as a Key Enabler of Postmerger Success

Most executives expect some cultural differences between two merging companies, but they don’t generally know the extent of those differences, or what they really mean. To companies undergoing a merger, ignoring culture can jeopardize not only the integration, but also the performance of the organization after the integration is complete. Explore several proven practices that can lead to successful outcomes—during and after the integration.